Cross Country: The Sport To Keep Your Eyes On


Alyssa Abke, Treasurer

While many people’s thoughts turn right to our undefeated football team when thinking about Gopher sports, the men’s and women’s cross country teams remain an unappreciated gem at the University of Minnesota. Despite the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents voting 7-5 in favor of cutting three men’s sports programs, including men’s indoor track and field, a sport many men’s cross country athletes also participate in, both the men’s and women’s cross country teams came into the 2022 season with a strong finish from the 2021 season.

Following a successful 2021 season, the program also welcomes many new faces, including a new coach, Sarah Hopkins with the assistance of Brad Wick. Sarah Hopkins offers a new perspective and coaching advice to the team, and continues to maintain the high standards that the teams set for themselves each year.

“The goal is always what it is at Minnesota, which is to make the national championships,” head coach Sarah Hopkins said. “That is not going to be an easy feat, it never is. There’s always going to be surprises, there will always be people that come out of the woodwork that you’re not necessarily expecting, but have a great had a great summer [of training] and really come up and help.”

Sarah Hopkins’ quote highlights how remarkable these cross country teams are, the women’s team has five-season streak of qualifying for the NCAA Championships and the men’s cross country team set new a new standard as they made the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2015 last season.

The Golden Gophers have plenty of incredible new talent coming to the table for the 2022 season. The women’s team has added 6 new freshmen to the mix and the men’s cross country team welcomes 10 new runners, with 3 of those being transfers having collegiate race experience.

Of these new talented runners, the women’s team welcomes multiple state champions. Ali Weimer’s joins the team as the 2021 high school state cross country champion. Another addition to the roster is Zoie Dundon, a back-to-back 800m track and field state champion in Minnesota. Izzy Roemer won the 1600m Minnesota state track and field title and finished second in the state with the 3200m. The team also welcomes Anna Lien, a 1600m state champion from Fargo North High School.

“A lot of our impactful younger student-athletes on this team are from the Midwest, from Minnesota,” Hopkins said. “And so if you’re a track and cross-country fan in this state, you will recognize the names from high school and they’re now still here and are going to be that next generation of Gopher Cross Country.”

Additionally, the men’s cross country team is brining in two Gatorade Cross Country Athletes of the Year: Shane Griepentrog from Wisconsin and Tanner Klumph from Montana. The huge amount of returning talent the men’s team has will allow them to redshirt many of their freshmen and help them further develop their racing abilities for future seasons.

“We’re certainly excited about our freshmen that are redshirting,” Hopkins explained. “Being able to keep an eye on them even though they’re not in uniform and see their development over the course of the fall and into the spring will be fun to see. Especially on the guys side next year we feel really confident that like there’s going to be a big step next year. So kind of watching what’s churning in the unattached world to see what that’s going to look like when they all come together in uniform next year.”

Although the initial USTFCCCA rankings placed the Gopher women’s cross country team at 29 in the country, the women’s team sits at number 5 in the Midwest Region. The men’s cross country team’s votes seated them at 34 in the country. In the Midwest Region, the men’s cross country team is currently ranked number 4. Based on previous seasons, these ranks will only improve from here.